On Moths and Lanolin

Let’s talk wool wash for a moment, shall we? Because I am seriously confused. When I first started learning about working with wool, EVERYONE I talked to (farmers, spinners, knitters, etc.) told me that removing most of the lanolin from my fleece was critical BECAUSE moths eat lanolin. From multiple sources, in fact, I heard that some people hang onto a bit of the grease fleece in order to misdirect moths away from their stash. As I’ve been researching wool washes (because I’m cheap and want to know what goes into a wool wash on the off chance it makes better financial sense to make my own), I looked at the ingredients in Eucalan, which claims to repel moths. Seventh on the list? Lanolin.

You mean to tell me moths have a love/hate relationship with lanolin?
This is the face I made when I read that.

Incredulous, I dug further. The Eucalan site says that the lanolin is used to condition the fibers (hrm, okay, fine), and that it is the essential oils that work to repel moths.

I took a look at Soak next, which has a much more formidable ingredient list, but also notes in their About Us section that “No laundry wash will keep moths away from your knits (not Soak, and not our competitors). Because moths are attracted to the oils from your skin that are trapped in the fibers, your best bet is to wash them regularly and store them clean.” That jives with the claims I’ve heard on lanolin previously–it’s an oil sheep produce. Snack time for moths.

The thing is, I can’t find any great research on clothing moths and their relationship to lanolin, so what I want to know is (a) whether the naturally-derived lanolin in products like Eucalan is altered in a way that makes it not appeal to moths and if not, (b) whether the conditioning power of lanolin is actually worth the risk of attracting moths.

Finally, help me do a little impromptu research here (I’ll share the results along with a review of Soak versus Eucalan versus homemade soaps if I get at least ten responses):

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